Definition and characteristics
Depression is a frightening label for some people. A Mental Health Professional can help you feel more normal when explaining that depression is a medical condition. In order to qualify for a diagnosis of Major Depression 5 of the following symptoms must be present in your life for two weeks or longer:
First of all you need to have a persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Then you need 5 or more of the following symptoms for at least two weeks:
- Feelings of intense hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that used to be fun for you
- Decreased energy or fatigue that results in moving or talking more slowly
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts. Thoughts can include feelings of wanting to disappear or “not wake up”
Depression is a condition that affects our motivation system. The pleasure we normally get out of life gets “depressed” by this condition. Typically things like food, sex, and hanging out with friends all become less enjoyable when we are depressed. As things become less enjoyable, we begin to lose interest and motivation in participating in our daily activities. Everything can feel like a chore and seems to take so much more energy to complete. Even small things like brushing teeth or getting dressed can become difficult to accomplish.
Treatment and Talk Therapy
Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is. Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy or a combination of the two.
At the Center for Integrative Healthcare we can provide you with standard-of-care talk therapy treatments and refer you to a physician for a consultation around medication.
Talk therapy treatment of Depression usually includes several stages and layers:
- Diagnosis and understanding the causes
- Behavioral strategies
- Cognitive strategies
- Supportive strategies
- Relapse prevention
We will start by helping you understand how depression is affecting your life and what events may have triggered. Then we will gently encourage you to reengage with the parts of your life that you may have withdrawn from, especially the pleasurable aspects of your world. Usually, we will help you understand how certain patterns of thought contribute to maintaining depressed moods and will help you recognize and alter these unhelpful cycles of negative thinking. Support and reinforcement of the techniques you are learning is an important aspect of the therapeutic process. As your mood lifts and you have more energy you will feel more able to participate in the important activities of life. Finally, we will help you recognize how the skills and strategies you have learned in therapy will serve you in the future to keep you from getting depressed again!